Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Black Metal Revolution 2010 - The Year that was...

My goal for Black Metal Revolution in 2010 was indeed greater than the manifest reality, but whether that means the year was unsuccessful is an entirely different debate. Intending to print this year, I'm not sure at what stage I realised this was not probable, though instead of lamenting what wasn't, 2010 remained a positive one with a collection of over 90 strong submissions that will appear between the book's covers.

Having posted a series of previews which you can see here, it would be erroneous to suggest these are the highlights of the collection, but what they do appear as are pieces that work well in isolation of their contemporaries. And while online seems a wholly suitable platform for some of the longer submissions, I think there's a degree of excitement to be found in the prospect of a listener taking the time to pull the record in question off the shelf and play it in concert with the pages or even chapters that are slowly materialising on some of BM's most revered artists and their records. And some of the more epic submissions demand this; a truth I can attest.

In one sense, the delays have provided for opportunities to include releases that even three months ago would not have been possible. Order From Chaos' 'Dawn Bringer' being one such recording, having never before been realised on the vinyl format, and recently announced as part of an NWN box set discography slated for 2011. If you were unaware, the book is only accepting submissions on recordings that have materialised on vinyl. If you were unaware of the importance for me in having submissions on OFC, consider yourself enlightened.

The demise of 2010 finds me still chasing a host of bands I seemed to have been chasing this time last year, though I deem all these acts well worthy of inclusion and acknowledge that what I am pursuing is conceptually simple, sometimes finding the right words to articulate that which you hold above all else is another matter entirely. This is not exactly teaching me patience, but it does no harm...

I have posted lists here and there covering all the artists who have submitted pieces thus far, so I won't revisit that at this time , but what I will say is that the year saw offerings come from a host of hordes truly important to me. Among those, Proscriptor from Absu, Master from Bestial Mockery, Impurath from Black Witchery, RR of Blasphemophagher fame, Denial Of God's Ustu, Azgorgh, the menace behind Drowning The Light, Tormentor from Gorgoroth, Meads Of Asphodel's Metatron, and submissions from the expected voices behind entities such as Toxic Holocaust, Rites Of Thy Degringolade, Profanatica, Satanic Warmaster, Sperm Of Antichrist, Raspberry Bulbs, Negative Plane, Morbosidad, Midnight and many more...

Having read through the close to 100 submissions I have acquired, it is clear that the goal of 333 needs to be met in order to adequately cover the quintessential BM records I deem necessary for inclusion. In no way are people coerced into writing or not writing about specific offerings though considering the myriad of master-works that have materialised since Venom's '82 monument, it's desirable to see as many of these recordings discussed in this light.

At a glance, the following are yet to find an author putting them under the microscope - so to speak. I for one am hoping to see at least some of these adopted...

IMMORTAL Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism
DARKTHRONE Transilvanian Hunger
BURZUM Burzum, Det Som Engang Var
GEHENNA Descending, First Spell
MASTER'S HAMMER Jilmenice Occultist
HAVOHEJ Dethrone The Son Of God
DISSECTION The Somberlain
MARDUK Dark Endless
MORBID December Moon
MERCILESS The Awakening
MAYHEM Grand Declaration Of War
PROFANATICA Split W/ Masacre
KAT Metal and Hell
BEHERIT Oath, Drawing Down The Moon
CELTIC FROST Emperor's Return
EMPEROR In The Nightside Eclipse
ENSLAVED Vikingligr Veldis
SATYRICON The Shadowthrone
SIGH Scorn Defeat
TORGEIST Time Of Sabbath, Devoted To Satan

This list should not suggest that in order for an record to be revered that it must be drawing on 20 years old either. I see more of this on the horizon...

Onwards into 2011 we go with a goal of at least reaching the 200th submission...

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Curator of Black Metal Revolution - Top 10, 2010 and then some...

Jason Healey - Top 10 or so 2010

I was asked to compose a Top 10 albums for 2010 by Metal Maniacs, and when I got down to it, it appeared that album wise, the closure of the second millennium's first decade was not what you'd call "full-length friendly" where I am concerned. As a result, this list is not albums and it's not really a top ten. I simply wrote what I felt like...

1. DODSENGEL Ecstatic Horror 7" (Barghest)
Something old, something new; not entirely sure what it is but this band delivers a vision they can call their own. Ritualistic elements intertwined in characteristic BM stylings. Sound is a desirable hybrid of raw, dissonant Black Metal and straight ahead, catchy song craft. Definitely have their full lengths on my list of quests now...

2. DESTROYER 666 See You In Hell 7" (Invictus Productions)
Though I prefer the 'Wolves' era above all, there is a strength and maturity to the song craft exposed on this EP that captures the band's vitality and diversity. It would be retarded for D666 to be banging out the same primal violence witnessed on their earliest manifestations, and while I would never suggest they are a different band today, there is undoubtedly a sleeker, more polished, musical if you will, density to their contemporary productions. 'Defiance' had its charm, but this EP was where it was at for me.

3. DEIPHAGO Filipino Antichrist LP (Hells Headbangers)
One of the more extreme records I've been exposed to in some time, the savage conviction radiates from start to finish; the trio's reverence for their own legacy always apparent. You can tell that early Deicide impressed itself heavily on this band, but also that the trio emerged in a time where the divergence between black and death metal was less obvious.

 4. UNHOLY CRUCIFIX Morbid Edifice 7" (SeedStock)
7" reissue of a 2005 demo release, I think there is enough conviction present on these abyssic tracks to steer one's thinking away from this being little more than another homage to the Beherit, Archgoat, VON aura, though no doubt, if those bands push your buttons, Unholy Crucifix have conjured a cocktail that should engage on that level.

5. SPERM OF ANTICHRIST Blight And Darkness Demo (Hells Headbangers)
Clear that Beherit is a key influence on this duo, in the same manner it was on Demoncy. The aura of this demo is what's special about it, and despite the debate over the recording levels on the first pressing of this tape, that it had to be turned up so loud and that there was such an ensuring wash of tape hiss only served to make this recording even more obscure and malignant.

6. ARCHGOAT Aeon Of Angelslaying Darkness DLP (Debemur Morti Productions)
Discography releases leave little to the imagination, and in this case it was about doing true justice to a deserving band. Double LP housed in a hard bound gatefold sleeve with 20 page booklet and exclusive Moyen art. Despite being name checked along side numerous other bestial troupes, I'm enamoured with the fact that Archgoat's sound remains rooted in the proto-second wave style, still possessing a heavy Death Metal aura, and differentiated further by that grind-styled approach to composition. Arguably, this is some of Archgoat's strongest material, but my view is that this release is a grand addition to a worthy archive of recordings.

7. PROFANATICA Years Of Pestilence 7" (Desecration Of God Productions)
One can on occasion be left thinking that the idea of Profanatica is better than the reality; this EP proves otherwise. The idea of Profanatica in rehearsal mode always appeals to me. They came from a time when rehearsal tapes still had some relevance, where mystery and obscurity reigned and this is a suitable document to that time and the band's most powerful essence.

8. BLACK WITCHERY Desecration Of The Holy Kingdom LP (Nuclear War Now!)
A reissue it's true, Black Witchery are a band I only became fixated with in recent years. Familiar with their Witchery demo, I don't recall being overly enamored with that recording and like many bands it is possible to wander around their releases without falling under their respective spells. I'm pleased to say that BW did make it to my wheel of steel and I now cite as one of my most revered contemporary bands. This is the kind of record that can do such a thing...

9. THE ROYAL ARCH BLASPHEME Self Titled LP (Hells Headbangers)
It's almost a Profanatica release I guess and while the songs are great, I wish they had used a real drummer. Would have really ticked all the boxes for me. Great aesthetic, sound and arrangements. I never give myself wholly to bands with drum machines... it just doesn't suit my vision of what BM should be. Having appeared in my top 10 will give readers poise to truly ponder what sort of year it's been for me.

10. WATAIN Lawless Darkness DLP (Norma Evangelium Diaboli)
This release is falling into the "probably should like it but don't care enough about what I've heard to continue with it" category. Beyond the initial hysteria, no one has crossed my path prosletysing about its continued virtue. The trad metal elements that found their way on to this offering left me thinking, "was that the best they can do?" Not suggesting the performance was below par, but that the vision was. The art on the other hand is something magnificent!

Other Releases of note...

ABIGAIL/MIDNIGHT Farewell To Metalslut 7" (Outlaw Recordings)
I've been less than excited by Abigail's output for some time now, with perhaps the exception of the bonus 7" that came with the 'Sweet Baby...' LP. Midnight on the other hand seem to continually kick my ass. For some bizarre reason, I love to see bands with Venom running through their veins doing it as well or better than Cronos and co did between '80 and '83. Their choice of cover 'Slick Black Cadillac' by Quiet Riot may seem a strange one, but Midnight manage to pare it down to something primal, yet raunchy and enough of their own. What can I say? I'm gonna wear the Midnight side out fast!

ABIGAIL/MANZER Pictavian Samurais 7" (Hells Headbangers)
Abigail's tunes struck me as a tad more BM than what the pair had unleashed in some time, but the selection of 'Intercourse and Lust' photos was puzzling at best. Manzer's side maintained the approach found on their excellent demo.

MANZER Pictavian Bastards Demo (InCoffin Productions)
"Fronted" by drummer/vocalist Shaxul, the band lay claim to influences such as Venom, Sabbat and Atomizer, and reproduce the essence effectively! Five tracks, closing with Venom's 'Acid Queen', it's well executed 80's styled BM with anthemic choruses and great sound. Hope for something a little rawer next time, but definitely far from disappointed!

DROWNING THE LIGHT Rise Of The Black Serpent Demo (Adverse Order Music)
Best described as Orthodox BM in the classic Darkthrone style. Nothing outstanding, but the conviction possessd attaches the desired levels of engagement.

BONE AWL Sunless Xyggos Demo (Klaxon Records)
Though a reissue of a 2006 recording, this is my first exposure to these cuts. Instrumental versions comprise this release, but it's classic Bone Awl from start to finish, and assuming their hypnotic punk-BM hooks are as appealing to others as they are to me, this is one to possess.

GRAVE UPHEAVAL Demo (Abysmal Sounds)
Most easily surmised, though not necessarily doing this recording absolute justice, Grave Upheaval  arrive as a hybrid of doom-laden Incantation mixed with fellow Brisbane-ites Portal in brooding, abyssic waves of blackened death metal. I found the burn rate to be faster than desired, but I'm confident that a second wave of listens is imminent...

DODSENGEL Alongside Choronzon 10" (Barghest)
An expanded impression of the Ecstatic Horror 7" described above, this is definitely the most exciting band that has manifested for me in 2010. Increased experimentation/ritual an inspired feature of this recording.

KERASPHORUS Cloven Hooves at the Holocaust Dawn 10" (Nuclear War Now!)
Long been a big fan of everything Pete Helmkamp has put his name to, and despite the immense reverie this record received, I found it likeable, but easy to shelve. Still, have inspired hopes for the forthcoming 7"

Releases I expect would have made the grade had I managed to acquire them...

WEAPON From The Devil's Tomb (AJNA)
NEGATIVE PLANE Stained Glass Revelations (AJNA)
DEATHSPELL OMEGA Paracletus (Norma Evangelium Diaboli)
BONE AWL Bowing Heads (Iron Tyrant)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

When inclusion violates the legacy... or the perception thereof!

Inevitably, there are artists whose inclusion in Black Metal Revolution would bolster interest in the project and while I am bewitched enough by their potential involvement to pursue the opportunity, there are occasions when I find myself satisfied with a rejection. If that sounds retarded, chances are you think the whole BMR project is, but if you find yourself intrigued by this concept, read on and I will elaborate.

The most obvious individual connected to this thinking is Varg Vikernes. Having sworn allegiance to Burzum as far back as '94 I know I'm not alone in recognizing Vikernes as a unique entity. Unlike the almost exclusive majority of the book's participants, it's almost as though the "influence" for his music came from anything but other metal bands. When Varg was quoted as saying, "I see Burzum as a dream without holds in reality. It is to stimulate the fantasy of mortals, to make them dream," I have to say that I found and still find inspiration in that statement. It's not an absurd declaration of arrogance or alienation from the herd; it resounds for me as a true intimation of the spirit and sound of Burzum as coming from somewhere "else" - not simply from the grooves of a contemporaries' record...

Prior to contacting the now readily contactable Vikernes I had already considered the approach as a futile one. The fact I became haunted by the possibility he may agree to do it gave me poise to think it worth putting out there, even if I felt I already knew how the response would read. What did encourage me to finally make contact was the notion that I couldn't recall any interviews where Varg actively spoke about other bands or records that he had been inspired by. I imagined something "exclusive" in a sense... almost wondering if I'd be the first person to even approach him about wider aspects of his music - especially after 1993. Though I had interviewed Vikernes for Heresy #3 (approx '98) I too was guilty of revelling in the knowledge that a figure such as this had grander and more topical concerns to discuss than records spun as a teenager. And who is going to argue with that? Granted, my interview targeted his electro-ambient music above everything else, but...

I called up a few old interviews when I started writing this and beyond his known associations - Darkthrone, Immortal and his passion for Bathory, I wasn't able to locate much that referenced the primordial essence of Burzum - at least where his BM output is concerned. And though I think 'Hlidskjalf' and 'Daudi Baldr's' are interesting enough, it is the '91 - '93 period that sets my spirit aflame! Vikernes revealed many of those electro artists who had made an impression on him in an interview with <a href="http://www.burzum.com/burzum/library/interviews/sounds_of_death_5/" target=_"blank">SOD Magazine</a> back in '95 and I guess by this time, discussing Black Metal had ceased to be a detail of interest for him, nor was it a point to probe for those seeking interviews.

In the end, I'm glad he elected not to write a piece for BMR. I have no specific idea as to where Burzum came from, and I'm content in that space...

Friday, September 10, 2010

I read a book called Hideous Gnosis...

Hideous Gnosis is a recently published book whose core aim was to explore Black Metal Theory.

Prior to commencing work on Black Metal Revolution, I was pursuing another text titled The Stench of Black Metal. The purpose of said publication was to invite Black Metal
musicians of considered scope and vision to articulate their own "philosophy" of Black Metal, guided by a brief set of questions. The adoption rate was not where I wanted
it to be and though I did receive some excellent insights, the project moved too slowly for my liking and I decided to put it on ice for an indeterminable amount of time.

Adopting a simpler strategy with regard to my next offensive - Black Metal Revolution - a collected work comprised of musicians and artists discussing their most revered
Black Metal records, I have since been contacted by a number of people pursuing what I would call "like" as opposed to similar projects. The motivation for this blog
having been born of one of those; an introduction to Hideous Gnosis.

The following is both a series of comments about Hideous Gnosis as well as relative discourse on Black Metal Revolution.

I see true merit in the expressions of many, verses the opinions of the few. Black Metal Revolution aims to expose anecdotal commentary from no less than 333 artists, with
approximately 85 submissions so far received. In my almost 20 year engagement with Black Metal, I have observed as it has evolved through a number of trends, seen it
expand, gain popularity and reach unexpected levels of commercialisation. It would have once been difficult to anticipate these levels of accolade, though I wonder if
that's a seemingly simplistic point of view when considering the cult of Bathory or that Venom were in their heyday a stadium-sized band, but in the wake of murder, arson
and treachery, it would have been quite a leap to think that contemporaries of artists serving prison terms, well shy of a decade later, would be receiving awards
equivalent to Grammys in their native countries.

Having reached the magnitude it has, as well as existing on a plane infinitely more complex than being described simply as music, it's no surprise that Black Metal has
undergone an academic styled appraisal.

Black Metal is enriched by an increased presage not held by a troupe such as Venom, the term alone now failing to convey one singular focus. Ask ten noted BM musicians for
an insight into what they believe te essence of BM to be and chances are you'll be privvy to ten unique appraisals.

Fundaments proffered may bear similar witness, but perhaps one way of articulating these divergent positions is to consider these deductions as plotted along a curve of
extremes depicting alienation from contemporary morality, most would exist in the shadowy end of the scale, with examples manifesting as outliers - at the thinnest end of
the shape.

So it was of great interest to me to learn of the existence of Hideous Gnosis via its primary architect, Nicola Masciandaro who contacted me and explained that she had
orchestrated a volume of which the purpose was to traverse the concept of Black Metal Theory. Being a person always keen to explore the considered reason of others,
especially those engaged in what could potentially prove to be groundbreaking pursuits, I was anxious to check Hideous Gnosis out and am satisfied to say that it was
definitely worth the time.

Having put TSOBM aside for an indeterminable period to instead focus on Black Metal Revolution, I have remained true to my earlier belief that the thoughts of the
respected masses provide for more engaging and credible reading than were I to compose my thoughts on 333 of my most revered BM records. What is relevant here when
comparing BMR to Hideous Gnosis (not something I intend to do too much of) is that the aforementioned architect, Nicola Masciandaro seems to view the two projects as
somehow similar. On a personal note, I find this somehow flattering, but at the same time believe it to be misleading should a reader be uninformed about either project
with the exemption of recognizing that Black Metal is a theme prominent in both. HG was compiled by approximated 13 authors, none of who I recognise from any known bands.
BMR will be comprised exclusively by noted musicians and artists. I don't believe you need to play in a band to have an insight into the essence of BM, and I think HG
proves this. It does however raise some sort of question as to how credible it may be perceived as, something I will discuss further on.

Interestingly Hideous Gnosis, like BMR are not books ABOUT Black Metal. Neither was designed to retell a series of events.

Black Metal must be bound by some conventions, however it is my contention that these don't necessarily have to be musical; as suggested earlier, "ties that bind" may be
best represented in philosophical terms. Before getting to that though, the appraisal of music in this text was excellent. Particularly noteworthy, Joseph Russo's chapter
in which Xasthur was the focus of discussion. The link between his perception of Xasthur's music and Malefic's personal pursuit of decay exists on a plane of analysis well
above the played out role of the typical, hyperbole riddled album review.

This leads me to my general affection for this work. My position on Black Metal is that it is an expression that has been liberated from stylistic shackles and that the
adoption of various elements, eccentric to its original core may not be necessary to its survival, but serve as both engaging and rewarding for listeners seeking
satisfaction across the breadth of musical experience, (as well as new currents of extremity with which to bolster the lyrical platform) which encapsulates a host of
elements including orchestration, atmosphere, intention, articulation and conviction. I often find myself pondering the divide between the lyrical expression and the
music. Both work in unison to create the overall declaration. Where the music was dull and insipid, how strong does the message then need to be in order to compensate for
this limitation? Can the music exist without the lyrical force and still be as potent? Can this also work in reverse? Abruptum achieved a measure of this on their DSP full
lengths whereas Havohej expressed an inversion of the idea by unleashing an exclusively verbal tirade on 'Dethrone The Son Of God'. Granted, it's a little harder to take
these diatribes quite as seriously as the sinister aura of Abruptum, but it takes me closer to the concept of an exclusively verbal and/or written communication being a
befitting medium for the conveyance of Black Metal. Does the Ondskapt 'Manifesto' contained in the 'Draco...' album make the music more credible? If Abruptum's
anti-ambience can be accepted as a tool of BM, the same manner in which Paul Ledney's unconventional metaphors have been, I come to question how Hideous Gnosis has been
met in various circles with animosity.

Certainly, it is an ambitious work and it no doubt flies in the face of those who wish for their model of black metal to remain as the "one true god". If BM can evolve
beyond a genre, a style of music, then why should it be considered an abomination for those with the means to place it under the microscope of academia? And why are so
many quick to assume that individuals wishing to explore deeper levels of what may or may not have been intended are outsiders or have some bizarre agenda beyond this
being their nominated vehicle of expression. it may not be a contribution to the art of black metal, but why can't a contribution based on the experience of said art be
worthy? Why would the ever stable platform of the album review or interview somehow be considered as elevated in merit. Granted, the artists own words, verses those
interpreted by the authors of HG may be more direct but it's not to say they should be excluded. I expect some of the artists featured would be envigorated to see their
creations examined in such depth.

I would however have prefered more direct artist imput and thought that the employment of "secondary data" was something of an admission that many artists wre not
interested to participate in such a text. Further, it is unclear as to who the intended audience for this book is. Assuming the book was compiled solely for academics, it
is questionable whether contemporaries of the authors would possess a grounding evolved enough to appreciate and facilitate a seasoned enough understanding of the text. As
there is no preface, no introduction or explanation of the mission of the work, I can understand why it has been derided. Most likely assessed with the idea of "who are
they to discuss what is sacred to us..." As an individual never arrogant enough to assume there to be an area of learning on a topic of interest that I can't benefit from,
it is always with an open mind that I approach works such as this and as previously stated, found the experience to be a rewarding one for the most part. Still I feel that
Benjamin Noys discourse on Peste Noire would have benefited from direct imput from the band, as opposed to material sourced from an interview in Zero Tolerance Magazine.
It's true that research is a valid tool, but it feels less endorsed in this context. After all, I want to believe this is not strictly an academic work.

It may be a gross generalisation, but I question how much of the book's true meaning will be extrapolated by the average BM acolyte. For the most part, it doesn't seem
that anyone (with the exception of Eugene Thacker's "Three Questions Of Demonology") has considered their most likely audience when utilising their nominated language and
phrase. It's dense, wordy and on occasion unnecessarily clever; but on the other hand, so were the philosophers they have been inspired by, so why not?

Still, criticisms I have seen have generally been base and petulant, reactive and unconsidered; uninformed! Of course this is just my opinion, and I'm not exactly writing
this as a studied consideration, as much as a once read impression. I don't intend to arbitrate over what should and should not be - frankly, I have my own interests to
pursue outside trying to convince someone of the worth of something than can decide for themselves.

Though impossible to cover all degrees of relevance, it was interesting to note that certain events were viewed empirically amidst a sea  of cited theory and speculation.
The omission of Bathory as the true architect of Black Metal's sound; the unquestioned acceptance of Euronymous' romanticised position on Dead's suicide being some grand
scene related action and the omission of understanding as to where it was that Darkthrone's calling to play Black Metal came from served the book no favours and in a sense
seem redundant in what should generally be viewed as an ambitious, if sometimes questionable collection of ideas.

Should "rules" apply to some and not to others? Should conviction not be the barometer with which expressions are accepted, or at least considered? If you have a mind to read HG, read it...

Buy the book from Book Depository - cheap and free postage!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Aggressive pursuit of outstanding submissions...

Chiseling away as usual, have a few new entities working on submissions and the list of people I'm now chasing for completion is definitely growing!

Some of the recent bands I've received submissions from include:
*Bone Awl
*Toxic Holocaust
*Rites Of Thy Degringolade

 A selection of artists who have recently agreed to write pieces for the the book include:
*Arsonist Lodge
*Black Witchery
*Negative Plane
*Funerary Call

And a collective of submissions I expect to receive in completion soonish...

If you haven't seen the previews from the book at this time, be sure to take a look:
Black Metal Revolution - Archgoat Preview
Black Metal Revolution - Averse Sefira Preview
Black Metal Revolution - Necros Christos Preview
Black Metal Revolution - Weapon Preview

To view all previews Click Here

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Promising more than just 'De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas'

I've received approx 70 submissions at this stage, and though well short of the 333 I am aiming for, it feels like the goal is slowly becoming a reality.

What is interesting though is the lack of submissions on 'De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas'. A number of people mentioned that they didn't want to write the hundredth piece on this monumental opus, but for me, the true irony is that I have to date only received ONE composition on this long immortalized platter.

Considering the common thread among authors who have written pieces based on one of the first records that exposed them to the BM genre, it is surprising that more haven't chosen 'Mysteriis' as their ultimate weapon of choice. I would feel confident to argue that this record would have been responsible for turning many people on to BM; whether for its musical construct alone, or for the events surrounding it.

It still appears a controversial record. Perhaps this perpetuates the fascination with the events from '91 - '93 in Norway. How many records really materialize under such circumstances? Its not so common now to hear commentary about how superior the record would have been had Dead performed on it; even that dubious "If The Light Takes Us" doco didn't seem to go too deeply into that. Maybe Dead's absence on it actually enabled its legacy to flourish - the whole "what could have been" idea.

If you are reading this, I want to reiterate that the most important detail when nominating a record to write about is to actually profile that which means most to you. This is the primary concern of this project. I also thought it worth mentioning that while I don't want a hundred submissions about Mayhem, I'm hoping for more perspectives than the one I have so far received. Maybe there will be another two or three that will balance things out for me...

I hope to add some more previews soon, but in the instance you haven't seen those posted thus far, here they are: Black Metal Revolution Previews

Friday, August 13, 2010

I'll record a cover version, but why would I bother with your book?

I never want these posts to convey the wrong side of the intended message - in other words, don't read this and feel it's a complaint. These are more observations and ideas that get me thinking about what others may consider when I approach them about the book and perhaps offer an insight they may not have envisaged, potentially and hopefully usurping what I believe to be a misguided point of view...

I found myself scratching my head recently when an artist I had approached to write a piece for the book replied that they saw no merit in rambling on about some record. I'll get to the specifics of that shortly. Naturally many of my observations about people in BM bands are not quite what you'd call empirical, and despite spearheading this project, I will always have the utmost respect for those arrogant souls who believe (not think; believe!) that what they are doing is superior to everything out there including that which came before them. These people, though rare, often produce the kinds of records I hope to see discussed in BMR. However, these thinkers/believers are outliers in the grand scheme and I would have been beyond naive to have considered everyone I approached for inclusion in Black Metal Revolution was actually going to be interested. And of the 300+ bands approached so far, only one saw no merit in discussing, "...legends of the past", so empirical no, but the opinion of an outlier, definitely yes!

The logic I would apply to this scenario is as follows. If writing a piece for BMR seemed a less than noble idea, yet you were from a band constantly name checking, performing and recording cover versions and generally content with the associations that brings, then I for one find that response peculiar. Especially as the written word provides an artist with complete freedom to express the virtue of their chosen record.

So in exploring the motivation behind recording/performing a cover song, there are really only so many reasons that a band would choose to do so, and I hope if once I've listed my thoughts that readers will feel free to add any others they can think of.
  • You worship the band you are covering
  • You love the song and think the original lacked something your band can provide
  • You are one of those bands who think that closing a set with a cover song is the strongest impression you can possibly make
  • You think that by doing a cover song it generates an affiliation between your band and the band you've nominated to cover.
  • There is some sort of ironic statement you wish to make by recording a song from outside the typical sound/style/philosophy of your own band. This is not typical of BM bands.
Either way, it's all some degree of homage. So why would that sort of "tribute" be acceptable, yet an unambiguous written piece not be? The question, though rhetorical, somehow longs for a logical answer.

Perhaps there is little to extrapolate from this rant and more can be gleaned from the Previews posted at Black Metal Revolution.

Black Metal Revolution - Misconceptions

The book is definitely starting to make waves, and not all of them positive ones it seems. Of course, anything worth doing will see its share of detractors, so I can’t say I am disappointed. On one hand I have relished the extent to which people have read “between the lines” so to speak in interpreting the book’s intention and admittedly I find myself confronted with ideas I hadn’t previously considered. On the other hand, it has inspired a need within me to provide some clarity.

In wanting to further spread the word about this quest of mine, I posted an update on a UK forum. Interesting in that it generated a deal of discussion, disappointing that no one seemed to care or understand what the book was actually about, yet all appeared hasty to strike a blow, irrespective of how ludicrous or erroneous their assumptions of the book’s true intention.

This got me thinking that it may be time to share a few thoughts on what I see unfolding and how I see the project continuing. Not to suggest the course is any different to that on which it began, but as stated, clarity is needed.

Almost 30 years since Venom unleashed ‘Black Metal’ there have been untold visions of what BM should be; numerous trends, movements and authorities clamoring for the definitive statement, but the reality is that as long as people “bear arms” under its flag, divergent thought will continue and BM will evolve. The term “religious” was not commonplace in ’94; in fact it was not a term used at all at that time. Does that make the contemporary Religious BM movement irrelevant? No, it is another of the myriad of channels in which BM has existed. Rest assured, there will be more.

It was suggested to me, on a more personal level, that one of the book’s intentions was to unite Black Metal. This is definitely not the case. My acceptance of Black Metal being an ever-evolving medium is in direct opposition to that statement. No singular vision will ever be empirical, no rule ever all consuming.

For the purpose of this project I attempted to distil BM right down to a couple of its core elements and what I extrapolated from this assessment was that BM musicians are generally pro-active in discussing
their influences and are themselves collectors of bands they swear allegiance to. From a genre point of view, that I chose BM is less the reality than it chose me. Having long been an acolyte myself, I, like others of my ilk have found opus after opus that satisfied a myriad of needs both musically and intellectually and I have never longed for a stylistic evolution that wasn’t able to be met under its ever expanding scope. I don’t suggest BM to be music alone, but I would argue that no matter what your philosophical stance on it, those who have themselves forged BM bands have drunk deeply from the channels that preceded their own and by that rationale, hold some of those previous manifestations in higher regard that others. So, I decided that musicians discussing their most revered BM records would make for an interesting read. Especially as that criteria was unfettered by any specific convention other than I didn’t want people to write album reviews.

Which raises an interesting point in response to another suggestion that a work such as this “normalizes” BM. As long as bands are releasing music, they have no long-term control over what will become of it, what sort of legacy will develop and who will listen to it. Look at the Black Legions. It took almost a decade for hysteria for form around that cult. What makes one outlet more valid than the other? Is a cover version of a classic track more valid than a written piece on the album that it came from? Is not more discerned from the written word, assuming it is executed with finesse and insight?

I purposefully used the term Revolution as I found appeal in its ambiguous nature. As stated earlier, it inspired me that people saw more in the conveyance of the book’s message than may have been intended, but recent developments have generated thinking that this too is a point worth clarifying. I make no apologies for positioning BM as a revolutionary form of music. Is it the same as Communism or Fascism? No. Will it be a tool to overthrow government, generate social change or incite fear into the hearts of masses of religious devotees? Not likely. Has it proven to be a genre in which some phenomenal and seldom matched musical visions have been unveiled? The answer is a resounding yes.

So, in that context, it is a revolutionary expression.

The other side of this coin is the simpler of the two; the attachment to the archaic format that is the vinyl record. As the book’s criteria cites, all submissions must have been released on vinyl. The association of 333 submissions with 33 & 1/3 revolutions per minute is not happenstance. Drop the needle onto an LP and watch it go round; watch it revolve. There’s not a lot more to it than that.

Finally, there isn’t an elaborate master plan for printing a zillion copies of this book and for it to become a best seller. I expect those who submitted pieces for it to be interested in the end result and BM acolytes who are wanting another vessel to further explore in the realm of classic offerings discussed within its pages should also find it holds merit. Ultimately if anyone reading these pieces gets the inspiration to listen to one of these chosen records and hear it through the perspective of another, hopefully gaining something even greater through this ritual, then the greatest goal has been achieved.

Black Metal Revolution - A Question Of Duplicates

Black Metal Revolution Blog #3 - Originally posted at Metal Maniacs March 13th, 2010

For those of you who may not of heard of this project, Black Metal Revolution is a forthcoming book that will profile a series of black metal musicians and artists from across the ages discussing their most revered black metal record.

The approach is as subjective as you will and the goal is to capture the personal experience of the person writing as well as something of the essence they have drawn from the record in question.

Take a look at a selection of previews from the book to gain a better idea by clicking here.

A question I have found myself answering a lot of late is one pertaining to duplicate entries. The answer is yes, there will be duplicate submissions. Can you really imagine only one person wanting to write about ‘Under The Sign Of The Black Mark’? Naturally, I can’t have a book filled with 200 commentaries on Bathory, so I have to cap it somewhere, but the idea of the book is not for people to find records that they alone can write about; rather, the point is for the artist writing to express for the readers just what it is that the record they are writing about means to them.

When you think about it, even the greatest records hold zero significance if people don’t listen to them and neglect to bestow acclaim onto them. Without getting into debate as to what even constitutes “the greatest”, the book is looking to hear from people who have themselves made contributions, be they musical or artistic, and what it is that makes their most revered records the cult classics they believe them to be. So if five people wrote about ‘Under The Sign Of The Black Mark’ ideally those five experiences are different and engaging enough to inspire readers as well as providing insights into the authors of the piece. While a select few exclusives have been granted, it’s not something I want to do too much of and on a case by case basis this will continually be assessed.

The other peril of course with granting exclusives is that the opportunity to write about your most acclaimed record may be lost. An individual enamoured with the book’s idea and concept sees that ‘Fallen Angel Of Doom’ has already been written about. Are they not to be included? Is the assumption to be made that whoever got to it first proffered an all encompassing essay on this opus? The answer is NO! The way that certain records inspire and are seen as revolutionary is dependent on more than existence alone. What lurks within the grooves of these illustrious platters is something potentially unique for all who indulge.

I mentioned earlier the inclusion of musicians and artists. I am really blown away to reveal that I received a piece from none other than Joe Petagno this week. A really killer offering on none other than Bathory. For those unfamiliar with Joe, check out a troupe called Motorhead and you’ll get an idea of what’s Joe’s art is all about. And in addition to that, Dennis Dread has recently revealed the new Darkthrone cover as well as his acceptance of our invitation to be part of the book.

For more on these amazing artists:

Joe Petagno's official site
Dennis Dread's official site

Black Metal Revolution - Motivation

Black Metal Revolution Blog #2 - Originally posted at Metal Maniacs Feb 12th, 2010

I have two passions in life… Black Metal and collecting records. Though I am cursed by a number of factors – living in Australia (everything costs a fortune to get mailed here) and never having enough money to buy all the records I wish to possess, I pursue this hunt as often as possible. Having never been a junkie, I can only imagine the hunger, and expect it’s on par with my need.

What does that have to do with the Black Metal Revolution book you ask?


In trying to build up something of a story for the book (figuratively rather than literally) I wanted to keep it as close to my chest as possible. For me the book is intrinsically bound within the flowering spores of simplexity. An idea that is fundamentally straight forward, yet one that can find itself readily attached to numerous philosophical slants. So I needed to be sure that I conveyed the mission of this book adequately; that people could get what it was all about without revision or confusion. And that there was actually something to say! An idea is great, but with no support for that idea, it’s well, not much… When I did run it up the flagpole I was pleased to discover there were those who saluted it. The idea possessed merit.

And conceptually what I am seeking in terms of submissions is pretty simple. I contact people from bands and ask them to compose their own, subjective-as-they-will opinions on their favourite black metal record. If you read my post from a couple of weeks ago titled Black Metal Revolution - Genesis you’ll see the criteria is kinda loose and what I deem as black metal is well outside the parameters of some of the close minded sets that manifested during the mid 90’s BM explosion and beyond. Yet what’s exciting is that so much can be read between the lines. The variables of meaning and significance attached have been revealing and I know this will only serve to increase the overall level of engagement experienced by readers.

Ultimately, I love collecting records and discussing them. Which leads me further along the line to this idea of motivation. Why am I doing this book? Loads of people have written a whole lot about various records. Everything that gets released gets reviewed, blogged and ripped for download. Cherished, or deigned to collect dust and choke up bytes in cyberspace. All that this really tells us however is that some guy had some-thing to say about that particular offering. Granted some reviews are more insightful than others; I myself having written hundreds of them in the past like to think my critiques bore worth. Despite that I can’t help but to feel that the whole release/review/regurgitate thing feels more than a little played out...

Now we’re really getting down to motivation…

No scenario can ever be described as categorical, but one generalized observation I feel comfortable in making is that headbangers proudly wear their devotion to their most revered cults on their sleeves. How many styles, scenes, or indie movements have sprung up, blatantly ripping off artists from the past and claiming oblivion to the bands they clearly stole from? I guess they are safe too as these bands don’t even need to convince the hype machine of their authenticity as those putting pen to paper in praise of these scenesters have no idea either. That’s another thing that makes Black Metal so absorbing. There is merit in paying homage to those who came before. It’s completely anomalous.

So, with all that in mind, who better to discuss these cult records than those possessed enough to summon their own musical manifestations? And cliché riddled reviews have not been welcomed. Discussion surrounding what it is about these records that makes them so important to the individual in question is the message sought. What it was that these records inspired in the author and the consequence of those influences. Consider too that these consequences aren’t always reflected in musical expression alone; that is something worth articulating.

If you keep an eye out on our Updates page, you’ll see snippets of personnel who have thus far sworn allegiance to the project or proffered pieces of their own. Take a look at our Black Metal Revolution Twitter Feed for insight or for a deeper impression, check out the Previews page which has approx 15 of the submissions that will appear in the book

I don’t intend to reveal too much about the records people have written about beyond the samples that have been posted, but I have made concessions for a couple of people who wanted to write about specific records exclusively. So if you’re reading this and want to submit a piece, please look beyond the following:

  • Sadistik Exekution – We Are Death Fukk You!
  • Parabellum – Sacrilegeo
Beyond those you are free to adopt whatever you wish…

Till next time.

For more, head over to Black Metal Revolution

Black Metal Revolution - Genesis

Black Metal Revolution Blog #1 - Originally posted at Metal Maniacs Jan 21st, 2010

Black Metal Revolution is a book that I hope to have published toward the end of 2010. The book features articles written by black metal musicians about their most revered black
metal records.

The premise is as follows:

Spawned by Venom, channeled by Bathory and proselytized with equal degrees of worship, obsession and homage by Euronymous of Mayhem, there is an ordered evolution that Black Metal has undertaken since the opus that bears its namesake was vomited forth in 1982.

Black Metal is not simply a musical style; it is a cult, a religion, a malignant manifestation with one unifying theme - its exponents are all acolytes of those conjurations which preceded their own. Be that the chaotic rampage of Venom, the morbid primitivism of Hellhammer, the esoteria of Burzum, or the ritual of Von, Black Metal's present, just like its future, pays tribute to its past. And while the noise may diverge from one band to another, and the philosophy may bear factional witness, the past will always reflect on the present.

The purpose of this book is to invite artists to discuss the virtue of their most revered BM albums. The most engaging offerings will be featured in the book along with in-depth interviews with some of the instigators of the first wave of BM, where we will explore their points of view on those long influential records.

Admittedly that which constitutes a black metal record is reasonably loose in this case. My position is Venom and all the hybrid bands thereafter that drew influence from them count. The early German cults, Mercyful Fate and any of the proto bands of that era are all mandatory for inclusion. What is important here is to recognize that while the resonance of ‘In The Sign Of Evil’ may not be obviously or immediately apparent on a benchmark album such as ‘Transilvanian Hunger’, the lineage and influence of these proto records on second generation bands considered synonymous with the very essence of black metal is unquestionable.

The title of the book is something of a play on words. The (R)evolution part expressing the revolutionary nature of the music, the simple fact that records revolve on the glorious wheel of steel is another detail and then there’s the evolution of the style, sound and the message therein. People often criticize the elder bands as being ‘fakes’ or not entirely serious about what they were singing about. There may be elements of truth to that in select cases, but history has a habit of repeating itself and it’s not unreasonable to think that one day the hunters become the hunted. This book is not attempting to make some bold philosophical stance, though I can already see that currents exist within these submissions, even though, as you can see below, what is asked of the writers is for them to provide anecdotes. A recollection of what made their chosen record the sacred platter that it is.


If you are a member of a Black Metal band and would like to contribute to the book, we are seeking written commentary about the Black Metal record you hold in highest regard. We are looking for anecdotes rather than reviews, so the submissions can be as subjective as you wish.

Feel free to include discussion about cover art, production, lyrics, riffs, your thoughts on the band members themselves or whatever you wish to cover.

Consider the place your record holds in Black Metal history, and your opinion on that. How influential was this offering on your own music/band? Would you cite this record as revolutionary and why?

.: Submissions must be at least 500 words
.: Include the name of your band
.: Your name, what you do in the band
.: Band's official site address

For more, head over to Black Metal Revolution

Thursday, August 12, 2010

An expanded view...

I thought it would be an optimum time to post more evolved thoughts about the Black Metal Revolution project via a blog. I have in the past published a series of blogs at the Metal Maniacs site which I will republish here. The idea more often than not is reiteration of the project's goals and to address the sometimes absurd conclusions people have drawn about the book and its intentions.

If you've stumbled across this via a means other than Black Metal Revolution the project as I have been referring to it is a collection of commentaries by BM artists and musicians about their most revered Black Metal record. The one they hold above all else. These are not reviews however, rather anecdotal portrayals of the author's relationship to their chosen record. I want to expand the understanding that not all experiences with music are master/slave relationships and that there is actually a symbiotic affinity where the writer is of equal importance to the release they are writing about it. Realistically the offering in question possesses status ONLY because the listener, who is in this case the author, grants it such.

Music is completely subjective. Nothing about it makes it "good". It is the experience of the listener that validates its worth...

Take a look at some previews from Black Metal Revolution . This will reiterate what I am talking about...